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“Every actor has to make terrible films from time to time, but the trick is never to be terrible in them.” ― Christopher Lee.

The secret to not being terrible in terrible films or terrible in terrible plays or terrible in anything else is to love not just the work but also life in all its wonderful wholeness.

THE I CHING, an ancient Chinese Oracle teaches that while inferior people try to create order out of what they see as chaos the superior person recognizes the order in what appears to others to be chaos.

Jane Jacobs said the same in THE DEATH AND LIFE OF GREAT AMERICAN CITIES, “There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder, and this meaner quality is the dishonest mask of pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.”

For me a movie is not a movie if I watch it in my home by myself.

Now my home was called by Brit  painter Peter Moore, “The most perfect place on earth in which to see a movie.”

So why then, for me, is watching a movie in my home not watching a movie?

Because a movie is something to be experienced with strangers.

Once a stranger walks in my door and makes their contribution to the moment then I no longer have something I can pause to make a snack, go to the can, or answer the phone.

A movie, a real movie, is something we can’t control.

At least, it is that way for me.

One of my favourite Donald Sutherland movies is one of his first, a Hammer Horror called DIE, DIE MY DARLING (1964).

Why is it a favourite? Well, it stars Tallulah Bankhead. What’s not to like.

Another is 1976’s FELLINI’S CASANOVA. Again, what’s not to like?

Of course there are the obvious ones like M*A*S*H , Klute , Don’t Look Now , Invasion of the Body Snatchers , A Dry White Season , …

Writers will tell you the ten best Donald Sutherland movies to watch this week.

That’s so boring it is indescribable.

If you’re the kind of person satisfied with that I don’t want to know you.

Dr. Norman Bethune stated, “A great artist lets himself go. He is natural. He swims easily in the stream of his own temperament. He listens to himself, he respects himself. He has a deeper fund of strength to draw from than that arising from rational and logical knowledge. The function of the artist is to disturb. His duty is to arouse the sleeper to shake the complacent killers of the world. He reminds the world of its dark ancestry, shows the world its present and points the way to its new birth.  He is at once the product and the preceptor of his time….In a world terrified of change, he preaches revolution – the principle of life.  He is an agitator, a disturber of the peace, quick, impatient, positive, restless and disquieting.  He is the creative spirit of life working in the soul of men.”

The thing about this definition of the artist is that it fits the prophets of THE OLD TESTAMENT, the Jesus of the new, and Donald Sutherland.

It is a definition I, as an artist, have done and am doing my best to live.

Donald Sutherland played Bethune in Bethune–Making of a Her0.

John Stuart Mill wrote in ON LIBERTY,  “The initiation of all wise or noble things comes and must come from individuals; generally at first from some one individual. The honor and glory of the average man is that he is capable of following that initiative; that he can respond to wise and noble things: I am not countenancing the sort of ‘hero worship’ which applauds the strong man of genius for forcibly seizing on the government and making it do his bidding in spite of itself. All he can claim is freedom to point the way. The power of compelling others into it is not only inconsistent with the freedom and development of the rest, but corrupting to the strong man himself. It does seem, however, that when the opinions of masses of merely average men are everywhere become or becoming the dominant power, that the counterpoint and corrective to that tendency would be the more and more pronounced individuality of those who stand on the higher eminences of thought. It is in these circumstances most especially, that exceptional individuals, instead of being deterred, should be encouraged in acting differently from the mass. In other times there was no advantage in doing so, unless they acted not only differently but better. In this age, the mere example of non-conformity, the mere refusal to bend the knee to custom, is itself a service. Precisely because the tyranny of opinion is such as to make eccentricity a reproach, it is desirable, in order to break through that tyranny, that people should be eccentric.

“Eccentricity has always abounded when and where strength of character has abounded; and the amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.”

Donald Sutherland had the courage to be Donald Sutherland.

We live in a time that thinks heroes are men and women with special powers who wear tights.

These are not heroes.

In the movies the hero is chosen for their looks.

In real life most of us don’t look like heroes.

In the movies heroes speak words written for them by writers.

In real life none of us have writers. We must be our own writers.

In reel life when the going gets rough the stunt person takes over.

In real life we do our own stunts.

Donald Sutherland was more than the movies he played it.

I had planned for July and August to do only one program, KID DRACULA (the 1922 film, NOSFERATU scored to RADIOHEAD) at 7pm Saturday & Sunday.

That accident means I have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday open.

I am going to explore the oeuvre of Donald Sutherland.

You’re welcome to join me.

I’m going to start with Monday, July 1 at 7pm DIE! DIE! MY DARLING which, in Britain, was called FANATIC. At 9 I’m going to look at something else. What? Perhaps DON’T LOOK NOW. Perhaps not. Perhaps CASTLE OF THE LIVING DEAD in 3D. He has three roles in that. Who knows what it will be until after.

At 25 I read Charles Chaplin’s MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY. In it Chaplin wrote about how as a boy growing up white trash in the slums he thought the doors open to the children of privlegewere closed to him until he read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay ON SELF RELIANCE.”

As a result I read that essay. It puts the juice in me.

“The reliance on Property, including the reliance on governments which protect it, is the want of self-reliance.” Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in ON SELF-RELIANCE, “Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you only have an extemporaneous half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it. Where is the master who could have taught Shakespeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? Every great man is unique. The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow. Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much…

“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world. I remember an answer which when quite young I was prompted to make to a valued advisor who was wont to importune me with the dear old doctrines of the church. On my saying, ‘What do I have with the sacredness of traditions, if I live wholly from within?’ my friend suggested, ‘–But these impulses may be from below, not from above,’ I replied. ‘They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil’s child, I will then live as one from the Devil.’ No law can be
sacred to me but that of my own nature. Good and bad are but names transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution; the only wrong what is against it…I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions.”

I am more interested in Donald Sutherland than in the movies he made.

For me, if he’s in it, it’s worth seeing.

Certainly the ten films we will be told we should look at will be on my screen.

So also will be many more we won’t be told about.

For myself, the best role Donald Sutherland played was Donald Sutherland.

Why? Because for that role there was no script to fall back on.

–Reg Hartt


–Reg Hartt



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